Monday, June 12, 2017

Music for Ghosts

—Photos by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

The whirl of the night-fan
plays music for ghosts

Memories wander as you
drag on the notes

Forget the moon
Shun the stars

Take refuge in
the darkest corner of your heart


the eyes of saint francis.

the eyes of saint francis.
the eyes of buddha.
the eyes of rosa parks.
the eyes of muhammad.
the eyes of matt shepard.
the eyes of your mother.
the eyes of yemen.
the eyes of jesus.
the eyes of broken baltimore, broken america.
the eyes of your child.
the eyes of martin luther king jr.
the eyes of gandhi.
the eyes of john lennon.
the eyes of rumi.
the eyes of john the baptist.
the eyes of palestine.
the eyes of mother teresa.
the eyes of malala.
the eyes of tibet.
the eyes of malcom x.
the eyes of hafez.
the eyes of vincent van gogh.
the eyes of cuba.
the eyes of tolstoy.
the eyes of freddie gray.
the eyes of afghanistan.
your eyes with their tears.
your eyes of the flowers of tomorrow.

—james lee jobe, davis, ca


the hounds in your eyes.

look at yourself. the hounds in your eyes
are howling tonight. the world itself is a hound,
howling as well, then trotting off without a care.
your diamonds? your dreams?
they are nothing.
only two things count; what you have done
and what you choose to do next.
no one keeps score in this match. the grass
on the pitch is tall and wild, the weeds reach up
almost to heaven. the hounds in your eyes piss
anywhere they wish. the world itself is a hound,
and you damn well know it.

—james lee jobe


look, rhony, these eyes are two blue mountains.

each time i measure them, the other one is taller.
there is snow on the peaks that never melts.
bears. mountain lions. and while I work
the measuring tape whispers encouragement to me.
"you can do this. keep the faith."
there are tears, sure, but watch
as i weave those tears into a rope.
and with a rope of tears
i will bind myself to the sunlight on the snow.
imagine a frozen July.
imagine a snow blind view of the world.
follow me, rhony, i am shoveling a path to the top.
trust me, i am certain that we can make it all the way.
just a little further. we can do this.
all it takes is time and faith.

(for rhony bhopla)

—james lee jobe

 Vulture Tree from Effie Yeaw Ridge

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

Intent on summer without summer’s heat,
we hike the daylit night toward Hidden Falls:
this watercourse of spring-fed spills enthralls
our wills and wishes to infuse our feet,
our spent thighs, ankles, calves must knead the red
red switchback trail dust toward the wet through heat
that canyons and cocoons us in the sweet
close near-magnolia ambience, a bed
for buckeye, ghost-diaphanous at dusk.
Each scented inflorescence, twilight-sheer,
pretends its petal-cylinder is all ear:
half cob, half web. Its bloom, its fruit, all husk.
Wraithlike as this, what lost One alongside,
stirring no dust, keeps with us stride for stride?


—Tom Goff

Strange to feel how my shirt fits and burns
the instant its far-, far-beyond-cotton-soft
vegetable metal sticks to my skin: Waft,
you lofting cinders of me! you ashes urns
would covet in their more frothy state of red!
Strange to know Heracles wore this same shirt:
more gruesome accounts declare he wrenched it off
with chunks of living tissue. And this doff
of agony-rags, his onionskin desert,

left sinew raw, flesh raging flame on flame.
So shredded I wrenched your soft sweet gift away:
my torn skin leaves no sinew with which to play.
Your cropped my ears, poured in your holy name.
One touch of you and all has burned or bled.
Two men: one strong but poison-led to a pyre.
The other, no sinew but all abashed desire,
feeds his flame hot with each new-loosened shred.


—Tom Goff 

Mother, or Mom, or Mère (suggests the sea),
today, June Sixth, you join the Old One Hundred,
hymnally, gracefully poised aloft a clouded
cloud: clouds hug one another’s mystery.

Yoke twenty-seventeen to nineteen-seventeen:
as you held me inside you—not nine months—
I hope you linger in me by remembered sheen,
both chestnut hair and pale skin at once,

in these now aging innards thirty more years.
I hope not ever to lose all of your words:
how you said, To work, you have to be a bit servile…

or, Schoenberg could play piano in any style,
Mozart, Bach, Beethoven—wedged between fingers,
lumps of his chalkboard chalk. So much has blurred,

your fears my fears. Let language never leave,
nor music, the water in which I was conceived.


—Caschwa, Sacramento, Ca

My first pad was a bachelor apartment
($79.50/mo incl. utilities, pool, coin laundry)
In the vicinity of West Los Angeles
Neighbors became friends, some close

We were a microcosm of the USA
Though not truly united, but inosculated
Put together unwittingly, like several
Pieces from different jigsaw puzzles

The delicious smoke from my hibachi
Was not welcome at certain windows
The tenant above my very ceiling
Introduced me to my future wife

Decades later the place is now
Fenced and gated, no visitor parking
Extreme high density housing
Walk to offsite laundry for free dry

I think my first car is still sitting there
On the street, wedged between 2 others
Impossible to maneuver into traffic
A poster child for telecommuting



Some folks’ minds are just not
Wired to remember all the myths
And who begat whom
And the exploding array
Of new emoticons

This does not mean that they
Aren’t good people if their minds
Cannot be trained to royal rituals
That are meant to displace
The very ability to

Consider our fine lawyers in Congress
Who can recite volume and chapter about
Knowledge of and purpose of the law
And maybe once long, long ago they were
Even briefly exposed to

My mind is a rock
Chipped in places
But if I wash and wax it
Like the hood of my car
That is all I need to



Some kind soul who had
Never walked a mile in anyone’s shoes
Came up with this brilliant

One size fits all
Universal solution:
Move on.  Put it behind you.

So one doctor says you have
Terminal cancer
And so does the second opinion

No problem
Just move on
Put it behind you

So you have been brutally raped
On multiple occasions
And live in constant fear

No problem
Just move on
Put it behind you

So you are black and penniless
Living where the KKK prevails
No one will protect you

No problem
Just move on
Put it behind you

And if this solution doesn’t work
Bind and gag that kind soul
Tie them to the train tracks and

Thank them for helping you understand
That this is something you need to do
Then move on and put it behind you

 Bridge #2

Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

Kept it
In a bag
The quilts.

Said she
Didn't want
To wear
It out.

* * *

         (of a dear friend)

He had an insatiable appetite
For relief of an inner pain
And gave himself more alcohol
Than his body could sustain

Caschwa says: Our eyes show us everything, like the menu at a pricey restaurant, but our feelings limit what we can see.


Our thanks to today’s wide variety of contributors for today’s fine potpourri of poetry and photos! Some of the poems refer to our Seed of the Week: Eyes. Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) was intrigued by the word, "inosculated", which is the title of Sac. Poetry Center's art display this month. And happy birthday to Tom Goff!

Note that the poetry week in our area begins tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm, with Susan Flynn, James Cooper and open mic. On Wednesday, Poetry Off-the-Shelves takes place in Placerville from 5-7pm at the El Dorado County Library. Thursday, 8pm, Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento presents Bill Gainer, Evan Myquest plus open mic, 8pm, and Poetry in Davis presents Wendy Patrice Williams, Jen Vernon and open mic at the John Natsoulas Gallery. (Note that Third Thursdays at the Central Library will not meet again until September.)

This coming weekend will be a big one, starting Friday when El Dorado County presents Cal. Poet Laureate Dana Gioia reading with EDC Poet Laureate Taylor Graham and ETC Poetry Out Loud Champion Zoey Eddy at the library in Placerville, 5:30pm. Also on Friday, one of today’s poets, James Lee Jobe, will host The Other Voice in Davis, presenting Mo Stoycoff, Rhony Bhopla plus open mic at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, 7:30pm. On Saturday, there will be a celebration of the life of Theresa McCourt at Wm. B. Pond Park on the American River Parkway from 10am-3pm. Also on Sat., Cal. Poet Laureate Dana Gioia will read with Steven Finlay Archer in Angels Camp at the Museum, 12noon-4pm. Then on Sunday, Poetry in Placerville presents Michael Paul, Moira Magneson plus open mic, Love Birds Coffee and Tea Co. on Broadway in Placerville, 1-3pm.

Wow! Lots to do in poetry this week! Gird up your loins and fire up the flivver for all those wonderful readings! Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 Celebrate poetry!
—Photo Courtesy of Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
Michelle writes: “
The Sacramento Bee’s garden section 
says warmer days bring out the stink bugs. I found this song 
on youtube celebrating them”: 

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.